The Long Bright Dark

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Long Bright Dark

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Review

You have to admire a show for being as wilfully odd, dark and unhelpful as this. New kid Rust (Matthew McConaughey) and slightly jaded senior partner Marty (Woody Harrelson) are homicide cops in Louisiana in 1995, working on the case of a woman found naked, lashed to a tree and wearing a Satanic antler crown. So far, so 9pm on ITV. But who killed her is just the oft-forgotten starting point for a woozy character study where the real villains might be Rust and Marty.

Rust is a fidgety mess of grief and nihilism, while Marty's got the more traditional male flaws of boorishness and emotional cowardice. What matters isn't the case, but how it shows us the cops' rotten hearts. Regular flashforwards to 2012, where Marty (still a cop) and Rust (a wild-haired, drawling bum) are themselves the subject of police interviews, tell us something bad is coming.

It moves with the urgency of a concussed tortoise, but McConaughey is a revelation, hypnotically convincing as a character who could easily have been absurd. The mood conjured up by director Cary Fukunaga (he did the Fassbender Jane Eyre), somewhere between David Lynch, Terrence Malick and a scarier version of True Blood where all the bad stuff is done by people just like you and me, gives True Detective the air of a show that knows exactly what it's doing, even if it's not quite willing to give that away yet.

Summary

It's Louisiana, 1995, and newly paired state police detectives Martin Hart and Rustin Cohle are called out after a woman's body is found in a farmer's field, posed kneeling in front of a tree with a crown of deer antlers on her head. Seventeen years on, Hart and Cohle find themselves being interviewed separately about the case by the Crime Investigation Division, stirring up harrowing memories for them both. Crime drama, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Cast & Crew

Rustin Cohle Matthew McConaughey
Martin Hart Woody Harrelson
Maggie Hart Michelle Monaghan
Det Maynard Gilbough Michael Potts
Det Thomas Papania Tory Kittles
Lisa Tragnetti Alexandra Daddario
Maj Ken Quesada Kevin Dunn
Minister Clarke Peters
Billy Lee Tuttle Jay O Sanders
Danny Fontenot Christopher Berry
Charlie Lange Brad Carter
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer Nic Pizzolatto
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Drama